Let’s face it, sustainable weight loss isn’t easy and it can be really challenging to know where to even start. There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there. So much info that we often don’t even bother making any changes. Sustainable weight loss doesn’t have to be this out-of-reach goal, even though some of us may feel like it is. You may even feel like you’ve already tried everything in the past and weren’t able to stick with it then so why would it be different this time around? The truth of the matter is that for your weight loss to be sustainable. You need to make sure you have a long-term plan that allows you to create good habits to match your long-term weight loss goals. It is time you stopped placing your happiness in just the goal itself and learn to enjoy the simple fundamental strategies and approaches to sustainable weight loss.
MAKE IT EASIER TO BE ACTIVE
It’s easy to find the slightest excuse or reason why you couldn’t work out today. Whether it’s at the gym or at home. When we begin to implement strategies that make it easier and more convenient to exercise and be active throughout the day. We’ll find that we will be more likely to sustain a good exercise routine this time around.
Remember that being physically active doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of hours 6 or 7 days a week in the gym. For a lot of people, that isn’t feasible and it can create a lot of stress and fear around living an active healthy lifestyle.
Here are some strategies you can put in place today to help you increase your physical activity no matter your current lifestyle.
● Practice setting out your workout clothes/gear for the next day by the door before you go to bed. This will serve as a reminder to be active and work out that day and make sure you’re always prepared and have everything you need for a workout.
● Pack some extra workout gear to leave at work if you’re able to, that way you can always have the correct gear with you and remove another barrier to your routine.
● If you’re working out at home, dedicate a specific space in your home to do your workouts. Have all the equipment you may need ready to go and, if possible, make this space visible and easily accessible.
● If it’s in the same direction as your work, drive by the gym on your way home, even on days, you are not going. To help generate visual cues associated with the gym.
● Perform short 15-minute HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts. These types of workouts are a great and effective way to stay active and make good use of your time, especially for those of you with incredibly busy occupations.
● Add walking to your daily routine even if it’s just 20 to 30 minutes most if not all days of the week.
The Goal here isn’t to jump-start from 0 to 100 with your activity level, instead, focus on smaller sustainable improvements that will eventually lead to a drastic change over time. Practice patience as you embark on your health and fitness journey. This strategy won’t always be perfect, but having a plan in place will make it more likely that you will stay consistent long enough for you to see progress whether you want to lose weight or simply maintain.
SUSTAINABLE NUTRITIONAL HABITS
It’s almost impossible to change or improve what we don’t know and nutrition is no exception to this. For many of us, nutritional habits are the hardest facets of our lives to change. These habits are impacted by so many different factors such as our environment, demographic, ethnicity, religion, etc.
It is important to learn about your own habits and tendencies before you try to make a change or adapt to a new nutritional lifestyle.
The recommendation here is to journal everything you typically eat for 1 or 2 weeks, so for example “at 8 am I ate some oats with 2 tablespoons of honey along with some fruit and granola” or “at lunch today I had a double cheeseburger and some fries”.
The goal here isn’t to start making changes to your diet right away or to feel bad about what you may or may not be consuming. The reason to the journal is to collect data on yourself and learn more about yourself. The more we know about ourselves and our tendencies, the better and more effective we are able to implement changes that will positively impact our health whether it’s weight loss or maintenance
Weight Loss Strategies to Include
● Eating slowly. In the hectic world we live in, it is hard to take the time to slow down and be present. When it comes to this approach, slowing down is crucial, as we eat we want to give our bodies enough time to process what we are doing. When it comes to food, our stomach usually has to signal to the brain that we are satiated and don’t need to keep eating, but we often reject our fullness cues causing us to overeat.
● If you want to lose weight, practice eating till you’re about 80% full, and if your goal is to gain weight, then do the opposite and eat till about 120% full. The ability to do this comes from the practice mentioned above, slowing down will allow you to better gauge your fullness cues.
● Meal Plan. Planning your meals ahead of time is one way to avoid the food temptations that are constantly surrounding us. It really helps you stay on track with your nutritional needs.
● Use hand portion size guidelines when creating your plate of food.
● Track your meals. Now meal tracking isn’t for everyone, the numbers can often become overwhelming or obsessed over. It is important to note that using the tactics above can be just as an effective alternative or used in conjunction with full calorie tracking when it comes to sustainable weight loss.
SLEEP AND STRESS MANAGEMENT
Getting adequate sleep is very important when it comes to sustainable weight loss. Lack of sleep while dieting does affect the amount of weight loss and encourages overeating amongst other side effects.
Here are some strategies you can try today to help you implement better sleeping habits.
● Create a bedtime ritual. A series of tasks you do before bed to help your body whine down as you prepare for bed.
● Turn off all major electronics 1 to 2 hours before bed.
● Find positive ways to reduce stress: Chronic stress may lead to poor sleep and weight gain in several ways including overeating to cope with negative emotions.
● Avoid eating a large meal right before bed. One of the last things your body wants to do is digest a heavy meal as it tries to reset for the next day. So storing that food instead as more fat is a more common way your body deals with that issue.
Don’t try a million things at once, keep it simple, you don’t need the absolute best workout plan or the perfect meal plan out there, cause truthfully there isn’t one. If you’re spending more time trying to look for the perfect this or perfect that, as opposed to just taking action and beginning, then you’re just further delaying your goals. The important thing is to make it harder to come up with excuses and make it easier to stay consistent. Odds are, even if all you do is aim to show up, when you do, you’ll always be better off for it.
Coach Theo Oghide is a former collegiate and international basketball player from England. He is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach, ACTION Certified Personal Trainer, and TRX Certified Instructor. Coach Theo provides private, in-person training in the Springfield area, and online virtual coaching services worldwide.